Owing to some kind of administrative error, I’ve recently appeared in this new book about brilliant copywriting. It’s written by Roger Horberry and makes for one of the best practical guides to copywriting I’ve yet come across – exactly the kind of book I wish had been around when I started out.
The final section contains interviews with ten copywriters about how they got started and the various tricks of the trade. It was good to be one of them, but also a learning experience – the main lesson being that I should try to talk in more coherent sentences.
Hopefully Roger won’t mind me including an excerpt below. For the rest, you’ll have to buy the book.
Q. How did you get started?
I did an English degree and finished that without a clue what to do. The only sort of copywriting I knew about was the advertising type, which I imagined being a very brash, ego-driven world – and that didn’t appeal. So I drifted for a year, then got a job at EMAP working for a fascinating magazine called Local Government Chronicle, selling ad space. As a side project, my manager asked me to create a little ad promoting the magazine, and I fondly remember my first effort. It was a map of the UK split into the local authority regions. Underneath it said '447 Authorities', then next to it was a picture of the magazine with the line 'One Authority'. I know, I know. Anyway, soon after I saw an ad in The Guardian for a graduate trainee copywriter at a recruitment advertising agency, a very unglamorous end of copywriting. I got the job and spent six months writing recruitment ads. I remember rushing out to buy the paper to see my work. I think my mum and dad pretended to be more impressed than they were.